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Carpet recycling leaps by a fifth

carpetoffcuts2A record 107,000 tonnes of waste carpet were reused, recycled and recovered in the UK last year, up 21% on 2012.

The landfill diversion rate of 27% means that Carpet Recycling UK has exceeded its original target of 25% by 2015 two years early. This target was set in 2008 when the industry's not-for-profit organisation was launched to tackle the 400,000 tonnes of waste carpet created annually in the UK.

Increased volumes have been helped by a three-fold rise – from 15 to 45 - in the number of local authorities providing dedicated carpet collection facilities, as well as the creation of new outlets and innovative end uses for recycled carpet waste encouraged by CRUK. With the support of key UK manufacturers and distributors keen to demonstrate producer responsibility for their products, CRUK has been instrumental in changing the perception of carpet waste for the better; from uplifted materials to post-production and installation off-cuts.

Reuse and recycling of waste carpet increased 19% or by 7,000 tonnes and energy recovery rose 31% or by 15,000 tonnes in 2013 compared to 2012. CRUK has set a new landfill diversion target of 60% by 2020.

'We are confident that this can be reached given the progress rate over the past five years as the demand for carpets as a material stream has increased steadily. Carpet is now regarded as a beneficial resource from which valuable raw materials can be extracted for reuse in a second life,' says Laurance Bird, CRUK director.

'Possibilities are growing all the time as entrepreneurs from a complete cross-section of manufacturing and commercial enterprises continue to push the boundaries of what can be achieved.'

Domestic households are the main source of carpets, which are recovered at end-of-life via local authority recycling centres and bulky waste collections. Over the past 18 months, more unitary and disposal-based local authorities in the UK that are now collecting carpets at HWRC sites means that around 25% of local authorities in the UK are now separating carpets and avoiding landfill.

According to CRUK research, more than 200 Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) sites are now involved in segregating carpets, giving more than seven million households the opportunity to recycle their carpets.

The average household carpet disposal rate is 6.7kg per year, with a range from 3.8kg to 9.6kg dependent on catchment area size, plus length of time collections have been established. Collection levels are higher in the more densely populated areas.

'Councils continue to be an important focus for us as we encourage more to engage in collecting carpets, which increases their site recovery rates and saves raw materials for reuse or primary fuel replacement. Carpets from commercial sources such as flooring contractors and retailers are increasingly being segregated so that disposal costs can be reduced and materials recovered rather than being mixed with other wastes to end up in landfill.

'Scotland has introduced compulsory material segregation for commercial businesses from 1 January to stop loss of valuable materials going to landfill. This has to be welcomed and other UK regions will be watching this closely.'